I have previously discovered how SLF in toothpaste and the needle shaped bristles of my Systema toothbrush, have helped me to keep my teeth clean, especially in the early IMRT treatment days, when my gums were too sensitive for dental floss.

Now, 5 years after my treatment is completed, I am now faced with the challenge of keeping my teeth decay-free, as the loss of saliva has led to the lack of natural cleansing, as explained by my dentist. By the way, my dentist also said that besides cleaning my teeth, saliva by itself (without eating anything) can lead to the formation of plaque! So saliva cleans our teeth, but also causes tooth decay - what a bummer! Adding sugary stuff to the saliva makes it worse and it is really necessary to brush when you wake up in the morning, to remove plaque deposited by saliva while we sleep.

Anyway, after a several rounds of tooth filling for the past couple of years, I got really tired of decay forming around the gums no matter how hard I brushed. So, I went for the third line of defence - water irrigation devices, e.g. WaterPik. It was then, 6 months ago, when I asked my dentist for recommendation of water irrigation devices, that he suggested for me to try the Philips Air Floss, which he had been using personally for two years. Wow - why didn't he share this with me earlier? After 6 months of usage, I went for my semi-annual dental check-up yesterday, and my dentist confirmed that my teeth are much cleaner, especially around the sides and in between the teeth! I only had one tiny root decay for my lower right incisor, due to receding gums.

Why does this Air Floss work?

First of all, it is a misnomer. The Philips marketing folks calls it an Air Floss, but actually it is an air blaster. It works by blasting a jet of air, which is reinforced with either mouthwash or water, for a stronger impact. Mouthwash is better, as the chemicals help to kill the bacteria inside the gum line. For those of us who have had the pleasure of a dentist air blasting your teeth with a salt spray during a cleaning session, you will recognize immediately what it is.

Air blasting is used in all kinds of industries, most notably the oil industry where they have to clean the internal walls of oil pipelines, using sand blasting. Actually the oil people prefer to use crushed walnut shells instead of sand, as the latter gets too wet. Such kind of air blast cleaning is also used around the garden to get debris out of holes or spaces in between rocks, which is similar to a cavity in your teeth. We often see cleaners using high pressure water spray to wash our pavements, although in this case it is more water blast than air blast. For cameras, we use a blower brush to remove dirt & dust, for electronic PCB's we use compressed air to clean, and for golfers we air blast our shoe spikes after a game.

So, why not air blast our teeth as well? Besides removing plaque and food debris between the teeth, it also cleans slightly below the gum line. Be careful though, not to overdo the gum blasting, as the jet is quite strong and can lead to a bit of gum soreness. Of course when you have a piece of meat sinew or vegetable strand jammed tightly in between your teeth, you must use a dental floss to remove it. But other than that situation, blasting is the best form of cleaning. Why else, would the other industries use air blasting?

Contributed by Lee Hock Soon
Date: 2 March 2015
​Survivor since 2010

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